D.V. v. State; 43 Fla. L. Weekly D988a
Third DCA; May 2, 2018:
Two officers approached a vehicle parked on the side of the road. There were three people in the vehicle. Two were sitting in the front seats, and D.V. was sitting in the back. When the officers looked through an open window, they saw a gun on the back seat, only inches from D.V. They seized the gun, arrested D.V., and charged him with unlawful possession of a firearm. Did the trial court err in convicting D.V.?
- Sitting in a jointly occupied vehicle, in close proximity to a firearm, is insufficient to prove actual or constructive possession of the firearm.
If you have an appeal involving a criminal law issue, contact Samuel Walker right away, as there are deadlines that must be met.
Bitcoin and other digital currencies, such as Ethereum, have been growing in popularity over the past few years as blockchain technology is being adopted by major companies and governments. Today, many major companies and organizations have been taking notice and some have begun accepting these digital currencies as payment for goods and services. I have spent a fair amount of time investigating and researching these alternative forms of currency and have determined that there are many benefits associated with these alternative forms of payment. Based on my investigation and research, our firm, CPLS, P.A. has officially begun accepting both Bitcoin and Ethereum as payment for legal, consulting and mediation services. If you are a current client, or a prospective client and would like to learn more about how you can pay us, retain us, with eitehr Bitcoin or Ethereum, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or call me at 407-647-7887. If you owan a business, or are a fellow lawyer, consultant or mediator and would like to learn more about blockchain technology and accepting digital/crypto currencies, please also feel free to contact me.
Know Your Rights Handouts If ICE Visits a Home, Employer, or Public Space
AILA provides Know Your Rights handouts for several scenarios: ICE worksite raids (for employers), ICE home visits, and ICE public stops.
The Secretary of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may designate a foreign country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) if conditions in that country temporarily prevent nationals from that country from safely returning to their countries. Examples of conditions that will cause the designation of a country for TPS status are ongoing armed conflict and natural disasters. An individual granted TPS will be allowed to work in the US, will not be placed in removal proceedings, and may be granted travel authorization.
In recent months, the Secretary of DHS has announced the termination of TPS status for the following countries:
|Country||TPS Designation Date||TPS Termination Date|
|Honduras||January 5, 1999||January 5, 2020|
|El Salvador||March 9, 2001||September 9, 2019|
|Haiti||January 21, 2010||July 22, 2019|
|Nepal||June 24, 2015||June 24, 2019|
|Nicaragua||January 5, 1999||January 5, 2019|
|Sudan||November 4, 1997||November 2, 2018|
Individuals currently in the US with TPS status should contact an immigration attorney to determine what option, if any, they have to legally remain in the US once their status ends on the expected termination date.
If you would like to understand what options you might have to legally remain in the US once your TPS date draws near or have other questions about your immigration situation it’s important to speak with an experienced immigration law attorney to discuss your specific case and circumstances. Attorney Evelyn J. Pabon Figueroa focuses her practice area on immigration law. Contact Evelyn Pabon Figueroa today to discuss any immigration issues you may be experiencing.
Many times my clients will come to me and express their frustrations with the child support system here in Florida. Surprisingly, however, a top complaint that I will get from a parent paying child support is not the amount they must pay, or even that they have to pay at all, but rather their frustration, and sometimes anger, revolves around the ways in which their child support monies are being spent by the other parent. Unfortunately, I have to inform these parents that Florida, along with most other States, does not have laws or mechanisms to enforce how child support monies are being spent. But, is there a trend starting that will bring some accountability and more transparency to what a parent receiving child support can spend that money on?
The State of Delaware recently initiated a new system where the State disperses child support funds through a child support card, which is being compared to a Food Stamp or EBT card. The underlying goal behind Delaware’s new system is to prevent parents from misusing funds that are intended to help with costs associated with raising children, such as food, clothing, and educational-related expenses. This new card restricts the parent from purchasing non-essential products that are unrelated to the raising of a child, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or even car payments.
Our leaders in Washington are keeping a close eye on how Delaware’s program works out. There have been recent rumblings that Congress could extended a similar program nationwide making it the universal way to control parental spending of child support payments. On the other side of the coin, however, sometimes more government intervention, especially on a nationwide scale, may not necessarily be the answer to this issue. Others would support leaving such abuses of child support payments to the individual States to resolve on their own, which so far, very few states have shown interest.
Florida is included in those states that have done nothing to date on this issue. Florida law does not provide language for placing restrictions on how to spend child support monies. The philosophy behind this lack of oversight is that child support payments should go into an overall pot of available resources for the receiving parent. From this pot of resources, the child support payment may be used for direct expenditures, such as clothing, food, and daycare, or it may be used indirectly for the benefit of the child, for example, covering a portion of the rent or mortgage where the child lives.
This lack of oversight means, of course, that there is presently no accountability in Florida on how child support can be used. If, however, the parent receiving child support payments is not taking care of the child, then it may be possible for the paying parent to motion the court for a modification of timesharing or parental responsibilities, depending on the specific issues at play. However, Florida remains, for the most part, devoid of any court procedure that would allow a party to question how child support money is being spent. If there were such an oversight mechanism in place, then there might be much less abuse related to the spending of child support money. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, that is not the case in Florida, as it is in most States, so a parent receiving child support is free to spend that money in any way that parent sees fit.
If you have questions about your child support or your domestic relations case it’s important to speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your specific case and circumstances. Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A. and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law. Contact Attorney Frank today at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.
Going through a divorce can be an emotionally draining experience. Unfortunately, however, the emotional toll of a divorce can sometimes pale in comparison to the financial havoc that a divorce can wreck on your life. If you hire an attorney for your divorce, which any litigant should do if there is something at issue that you care about, whether that is your children, or your finances, then the costs of litigating a divorce can spiral out of control if you go in blindly. When going through a divorce, there are some basic rules of thumb that can assist you in keeping your head clear and your costs in check. In this blog, I try to break those down for you. In my experience handling divorce cases for the better part of a decade now, I offer some of the best ways I’ve come across to keep your litigation divorce costs under control during your divorce case.
Keep An Open Mind
The biggest mistake some people make when going through their divorce is sticking to their preconceived notions of how the case should turn out. Many times people will listen to tales of the divorce from other family members, neighbors, friends, and work colleagues, but since every divorce is different, too many times other people’s experiences will not match your own. Since each situation is truly unique, it becomes important to keep an open mind about different ways in which you might be able to resolve your case that you may not have considered before. Being flexible and reasonable will contribute to you saving money in the long run, so try not to remain fixated on predetermined outcomes.
Leave Your Emotions at the Door
Divorces lead to a whirlwind of emotions, running the gamut from sad and depressed, to angry and eventually, hopefully, to a feeling of peacefulness. Getting to that level, however, can be challenging, particularly where the wounds from the relationship are still fresh. The more you can try to check your emotions, and think with your head, as opposed to your heart, the more likely you will be able to come a reasonable resolution on your divorce.
Don’t Contribute to Unnecessary Litigation
During a divorce many deadlines will approach, and the better you can stick to these deadlines, the more you will save in attorney’s fees down the road. Divorce cases are document heavy, particularly when support is at issue, or when assets and liabilities must be divided, so throughout the course of your case, you will be required to provide a treasure trove of financial documents to your attorney. The best way to save yourself time and money is to respond to your attorney, timely provide all requested documents, and keep current on all outstanding deadlines.
Fully Engage in the Mediation Process
In the state of Florida, all domestic relations cases, including actions involving divorce and paternity, are required to participate in family mediation at least once during the pendency of the case. Mediation will offer the parties the opportunity to resolve the case outside of the courtroom in a more informal setting where the parties will have greater latitude to come with up creative resolutions to their case. Fully engaging in this process and being open to different types of resolutions will ultimately help in keeping your litigation costs down.
Your Attorney Matters
When choosing your attorney, it will become very important to conduct your due diligence on every attorney that you consider to handle your divorce case. You will want to gauge that attorney’s reputation for being a problem solver and getting cases resolved, as opposed to attorneys who simply want to litigate on every issue. In family court, not every issue should be litigated, so it will become important to find an attorney who can discern between the legal issues in your case that must truly be litigated, as the more issues that must be litigated, the more expensive the case will become.
If you have questions about your divorce case, it’s important to speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your specific case and circumstances. Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A. and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law. Contact Attorney Frank today at email@example.com to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.
In many of my cases, clients will come to me and will want to explain all of the reasons that they are seeking a divorce, and while I will listen, I ultimately have to remind them that Florida is a “no fault” divorce state. In practice, what no fault divorce means is that the underlying reasons behind why a person is seeking a divorce will not be relevant in the courtroom. Now there are some exceptions to this general no fault rule, but in most instances the Court will not want to hear the reasons behind why your marriage has fallen apart, rather the Court’s only role in this regard is to confirm that the marriage is in fact irretrievably broken.
No fault divorce stands for the idea that either party may seek a divorce without having to provide any reason other than that one of the spouses does not want to be married anymore. The spouse seeking the divorce simply needs to state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” in their divorce petition and then affirm that again to the Court prior to the Court entering a Final Judgment. This can work as a way to simplify the divorce process, as it allows for a much more efficient and cost effective divorce by eliminating the need to prove that one party may be at fault for the breakdown of a marriage. Additionally, it can save the parties from litigating over what can sometimes be painful personal matters in a public arena and prevent each party from feeling they must present the other party as the “bad guy”.
It is important to understand, however, that just because Florida may be a no-fault state, that doesn’t mean that fault can not be used or argued during a divorce case. In fact, ignoring the fault of one or both of the parties is a mistake that could potentially jeopardize your case. For example, as will be explained in more detail below, if one party dissipates or wastes marital funds, or incurs debt without the other party’s knowledge, or mistreats the other spouse or children, these issues can have a dramatic effect on determinations of alimony, spousal support, distribution of the marital assets, and the terms of a potential parenting plan.
One of the more common reasons people seek divorces is due to infidelity, but in many cases, the Court will never hear evidence related to a cheating spouse. Infidelity will become relevant, however, if alimony, or spousal support becomes an issue, as Florida Statute 61.08 specifically provides that the Court may consider the adultery of either spouse in making alimony determinations, including considering the circumstances surrounding the adultery of either spouse. This can include evidence related to the adultery itself, such as the length of the relationship, the effect it had on the marriage, and the effect it had on your life in general, particularly if it has affected your professional life, income earning ability, or overall mental health.
In addition, a party’s bad actions may also affect the distribution of the marital estate, as Florida is also an equitable distribution state, meaning the Court will decide financial-related issues based on overall fairness principles. Gifts, trips, apartment rent, car payments, and dinners for a non-marital partner are all considered a waste of marital assets. If a party is shown to have wasted or depleted these assets, then the Court is well within its discretion to order that the wasteful party receive an unequal distribution. Sometimes it may take the form of one party receiving more than half of the assets, such as a retirement or savings account, and sometimes it may take the form of the dissipating party having to be responsible for all or most of the marital debts.
Another area in which the reasons for your divorce may become relevant would center around children and the affects the breakdown of the relationship may have had on them. If you can tie in a parent’s bad behavior, including alcohol or substance abuse, infidelity, or other destructive behaviors that led to the filing of the divorce, into the parenting issues in your case, then the Court may in fact want to hear evidence related to those behaviors and the impact they have had on the children. For example, if one parent is abusing drugs, or acting inappropriately with their new lover in the presence of the children, those issues would be relevant for the Court to consider in making parenting-related rulings, including timesharing and parental decision-making determinations. If, however, you cannot tie a spouse’s bad behavior into having an affect on the children, then it is likely the Court would not consider such evidence presented by either party.
If you have questions about your divorce case and the implications of a no fault divorce here in Florida, it’s important to speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your specific case and circumstances. Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A. and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law. Contact Attorney Frank today at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.
In my last blog, What is Reunification Counseling?, I explained how reunification counseling can be utilized in divorce and family law cases. In this blog, I will talk about some of the ways this type of counseling becomes necessary in the first place. As we learned, one parent can intentionally, or unintentionally, behave in ways that alienate the other parent from the child. Parental alienation is a very serious concern for many divorcing and separating parents, so this blog aims to give you a better understanding of what parental alienation is and how to recognize it.
Parental alienation generally occurs when one parent sways a child into disengaging with the other parent, usually by speaking negatively about the other parent and/or refusing to permit or coordinate contact and timesharing between the child and the other parent. When it comes to spending time with the child, many times, the alienating parent will justify their behavior by telling the other parent that the child does not want to see them, something that will inevitably become a self-fulfilling prophecy if it is not addressed in a timely manner. Parents must try to always remember that they are the parent, alienated or not, and they must remain in control of making timesharing decisions. In reality, up until the time a child enters high school, and ideally after they become teenagers, parents should still be able to determine timesharing issues on behalf of the child, while not permitting the child to dictate timesharing terms and conditions.
Parental alienation behavior can also be seen when one parent does not fully engage in co-parenting or when a child is regularly questioned about the personal life of the other parent. This type of behavior burdens the child with making difficult decisions, resulting in moral dilemmas within the child. In this state, the child will try to remain as loyal as he/she can to each parent, particularly the younger the child may be. For example, if a parent reacts with sadness or even disappointment when the child reports they had fun spending time with the other parent, the child’s observation of sadness or disappointment in the parent can likely lead to negative feelings within the child, including guilt and overall confusion about their relationship with both parents.
Perhaps even more concerning is when a parent decides to discuss the details related to the divorce or separation and/or the ensuing legal battle directly with the child. This type of behavior is employed as a defense mechanism by the alienating parent as a way to curry favor with the child in an effort to further justify the alienation of the other parent, but the truth is, prompting this type of discussion with and providing this type of information to a child can be very destructive emotionally and psychologically.
Other notable behaviors that lead to parental alienation include listening in on phone calls or monitoring text messages from the other parent; excluding, withholding, or even purposely providing wrong information to the other parent related to the child’s activities and appointments; casting blame on the other parent for their own financial woes; refusing to be reasonable with requested changes in visitation schedules; using the child to spy or report back on the other parent; as well as more obvious behaviors such as denying access, influencing contact and timesharing, or even permitting the child to determine when such timesharing should occur. The latter example can be extremely detrimental to the child because it forces the child to choose between parents, something that no child should have to do.
Typically, as a result of these alienating behaviors, a physical, emotional, and many times psychological divide is created between the alienated parent and the child, and this is where reunification counseling may come in as an effective tool in helping to restore lost or damaged bonds. In these situations, a child psychologist or counselor would be required to assist the child and parent in redeveloping their relationship. Such a counselor may believe that reunification counseling could be beneficial to help restore the relationship between the parent and child.
If you have additional questions or concerns about parental alienation and its effects on your child, it’s important to seek professional advice with a licensed therapist and perhaps even speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your specific case and circumstances. Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A. and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law. Contact Attorney Frank today at email@example.com to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.
It is an unfortunate part of divorce and separation that sometimes one parent can, intentionally or unintentionally, behave in such ways that creates division between a child and the other parent. This division can rise to the level of parental alienation—when a child becomes enmeshed with one parent, strongly allying himself or herself with that parent, and rejects the other parent without legitimate justification. A very serious issue, parental alienation can have long-lasting implications on the relationship between a parent and child. Parental alienation generally occurs when one parent does not fully engage in co-parenting with the alienated parent, usually including such actions as leaving the alienated parent out of the decision-making process, talking negatively about the alienated parent, or even denying access and contact between the child and the alienated parent.
Not surprisingly, as a result, a physical, emotional, and many times, psychological divide is created between the alienated parent and their child. Once this occurs, it not unusual for a child to not want to communicate with, see, or spend time with that parent. When this starts to happen, in many cases, the use of a child psychologist or counselor would be necessary and beneficial to assist in redeveloping that parent-child relationship, something known as reunification therapy.
Reunification therapy can be used as an intervention for divorcing or separated families, particularly where children are finding difficulty, for whatever reason, with visiting with the alienated parent. In the initial assessment and follow-up sessions, the counselor or therapist will identity the issues that are contributing to the estrangement between the alienated parent and the child, and then work to develop an appropriate regimen for all affected family members. Through counseling, the child and parent will attempt to repair their relationship, usually by working on effective communication techniques and rebuilding the trust between parent and child that has been fractured by the divorce or separation.
Many times, due to pre-existing conflicts between the parents, a Court order may be required to initiate this type of counseling. If the parents cannot agree on the counseling itself or working with a specific counselor, then either party may motion the Court to appoint an appropriate therapist with the underlying goal being to reunify the child and the alienated parent. Any such court order would detail the expectation that each parent cooperate with the therapy and also set parameters for extended family involvement, while providing discretion to the therapist to set the specifics for treatment, payment arrangements, and all other related issues.
In some cases, depending on the severity of the issues and the levels of distrust between the parents and/or the child, it can be beneficial for each parent to have their own individual therapist, including one for the child. In these cases, the therapists would work together to ensure the family reunification issues are being addressed. In cases where the parents and the child share the same therapist, however, the reunification therapist would likely spend time meeting individually with the children and then with the parents separately before meeting with both the child and the reunifying parent together.
In almost all cases, reunification counseling can be beneficial to help restore the relationship between a parent and their child, so if you are having difficulties in communicating with or exercising timesharing with your child, it’s important to know what options may be available to you. If you have additional questions about parental alienation or reunification therapy, it’s important to speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your specific case and circumstances. Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A. and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law. Contact Attorney Frank today at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.
In Part I of my blog on the top 10 things to know about child support in the state of Florida, I focused on the first five important factors to know about child support in Florida which speak to establishment of child support obligations. In Part II, I will talk more about other issues that arise when dealing with child support, including questions I regularly get once child support has been established.
There are No Restrictions on How Money is Actually Spent
Once a Court orders a parent pay child support, the Court will only order the one parent pay and it will not dictate to the receiving parent how that money must be spent. It seems like it should go without saying that the child support should be spent for the benefit of the children, however, there is nothing in Florida law that dictates how a parent who receives support should actually spend this money. Sometimes this can be very frustrating for a paying parent who does not believe their money is being spent toward the benefit of the children. At least one state, Texas, is beginning to address this issue by proposing that support payments be placed onto debit-like cards that are controlled by the state and limited in use to specific stores and/or purchase items. We’ll have to keep an eye on how that progresses in Texas, but as of now, in Florida, there are no such restrictions on a parent’s ability to spend support monies in any ways they see fit.
Child Support can be Modified
Nothing in family law is ever written in stone, and child support is no different in that regard. Child support amounts will always be modifiable upon a showing of a substantial, unanticipated change of circumstances, so if either parent experiences a change in their incomes, or other circumstances that may warrant the Court re-examining the support amounts, then that parent will want to speak with an experienced family law attorney to ascertain the likelihood of getting a modification in the child support amounts through the Court.
Income Withholding Orders
With the entry of a child support order, the Court may also enter a separate Income Withholding Order that would automatically deduct the support amounts from a party’s paycheck, in accordance with their regular payroll cycle. Many Courts will prefer to enter an Income Withholding Order, and in fact other Courts will demand it since it is the preferred way for support payments to be paid from one party to the other, and because it keeps a paper trail of transactions which can easily and automatically be implemented by the paying party’s employer.
Department of Revenue
The main implementation and enforcement arm of child support in the state of Florida is the Department of Revenue. Through the Florida Department of Revenue, a parent can initiate a child support case, make payments on an existing case, or inquire about other issues related to child support implementation and enforcement. As a parent receiving child support, these services can be offered at no cost and should be explored by a parent seeking to have support payments initiated on behalf of their child.
Contempt and Enforcement
A common question that I get once a child support order has been entered is, “What can I do if the other parent is not paying?” The easy answer is to file a Motion for Civil Contempt and Enforcement, in which you would ask the Court to find the other party in contempt of the previous child support order that directed them to pay the money, and also for an Order of Enforcement so that the Court will actively enforce the terms of the previous order. There are many remedies available under a motion for contempt, including, but not limited to re-payment of all back support (with appropriate interest), continued payments as previously ordered, punitive fines as a punishment for non-payment, coercive fines to force them to start making the payments again, attorney’s fees (if applicable), and in more extreme cases, even incarceration of the non-paying party. It may be helpful to engage the services of an attorney in the area of contempt/enforcement, since they might be more familiar with the specific remedies available while considering the history of the case and the specific Judge assigned to handle the case.
It is my hope that this two-part series on child support has been informative for you. If you have additional questions about child support, it’s important to speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your specific case and circumstances. Attorney Russell J. Frank is a partner at CPLS, P.A. and focuses his practice areas on family and marital law. Contact Attorney Frank today at email@example.com to discuss any family or marital legal issues you may be experiencing.